Following the Colorado Buffaloes’ first-round NCAA exit yesterday against UConn, Rodney Billups thoughts must have shifted to his to his new team. In particular, what is his roster going to look like?
Billups would appear to be an exciting, appealing coach to many players. However, there is no doubt there will be pressure, especially on DU’s freshmen, to make a decision about their future at DU. Mid-April is prime transfer season for college basketball players. The long basketball season has just ended, a coaching change has been made, and for many players it may be time to pursue a different direction. Some may want to get closer to home, prefer a different playing style, or just make a change to shake the ‘freshman blues’. But there’s another problem facing these players — under current NCAA rules, players aren’t guaranteed that right.
To be eligible for a scholarship at another university, athletes must receive a release from their current institution. In most cases, they are released with a coaching change, since that’s pretty clearly the best move for everyone — why would DU stop a player from transferring who doesn’t want to be there? So, it is likely that DU would release a player or players who did not want to stay in the program.
Then, there are the additional outside pressures from other college programs that want to poach good players that they feel can immediately improve their teams. You can bet that competitors have sent out feelers to key DU players to see if they are interested in transferring.
No doubt, Billups is working hard to solidify the current roster, especially the most skilled players, that will fit in his up-tempo plans. During Billups’ introductory press conference, he even made a plea to existing players to encourage C.J. (Bobbitt) and Joe (Rosga) to be a part of the new changes at University & Evans – they were presumably on spring vacation.
Once Billups sorts out who is on the team, he will need to look at recruiting. DU already has filled two of three open roster spots for 2016-2017. Luke Neff and Jake Krafka have signed LOI’s (letters of intent). Neff is a 6’0” gunner and Jake Kraffka is a 6’5” forward out of Texas. That leaves DU with one known opening to fill, likely, in April.
With the move to a more up-tempo game, there are decisions to be made. Does DU need a classic point guard, the best athlete available, or do they need additional size to improve their obvious rebounding deficiencies? While Billups was recruiting for CU, there are likely prospects that were on his radar that could not make the current CU roster. Are those players ‘in play’ for a spot on the DU squad? It is also likely that DU basketball recruiter Dan Ficke has extended offers to players to fill the final open spot. Will the new coach accept a scholarship offer extended prior to the coaching change?
Only Billups knows the answer to these questions.
Ironically, CU was brought down by an up-tempo, athletic UConn squad that had a system and the physical skills to play at a pace that caused the Buffs to melt down in the second half. That had to make Billups think about the composition of his DU roster.